Tuesday, October 15, 2019

My joy cannot be linked to my football team's success or failure.

PHILIPPIANS 3:1
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord.
I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, largely because I went to bed in the wrong kind of mood. I was disappointed.

You probably know that I am a Detroit Lions football fan. We are really the most unfortunate fan base of all professional sports throughout the world. Our team is not only perpetually losers, but on rare occasions, when they have opportunities to win, something or someone always intervenes. It happened again last night. I am so disappointed.

A few highly questionable penalties were called and cost the Lions a much-needed win. Had they won, Detroit would be the first place team in their division. As a result of losing their game, the Lions are in last place this morning. I am so disappointed.

There is a part of me that would prefer to spend my day rage-scrolling through twitter, reading all the sports' pundits who agree with me for once. Everybody saw it, the Lions got robbed. I am so disappointed.

Instead of wallowing in my disappointment, I decided I needed to start my day like I normally do, so I opened my Bible to Philippians and discovered today's reading begins in chapter 3. I only had to go one verse in to discover the truth I needed to here.


FINALLY, MY BROTHERS, REJOICE IN THE LORD.

The command is not to rejoice in your successes, or your circumstances, or the people who make you feel good, or because your team was victorious. The command is to rejoice IN THE LORD.

My joy is not the result of what I have done or what is happening around me. My joy is in the fact that God loved me enough to send His Son (the Lord) to pay the penalty for my sin and purchase eternal life for me. My joy is in the fact that because of Jesus, God has adopted me and I am a child of the king. My joy is in the fact that God has promised me a place in His kingdom where all we be made new and there will be no more sadness, or death, or disease (or bad referees!).

Are you disappointed? Did someone not live up to your expectations? Did you fall short of your own standards?

The disappointments of life have nothing to do with our joy. Our joy is rooted in an event that already happened (Jesus' resurrection) and in an outcome that has been promised and is certain (our resurrection)!

Rejoice!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

CONFIDENCE IN THE CHAOS: Sermon Leftovers From Philippians 1

PHILIPPIANS 1:6
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

1. Reasonable confidence is often based on knowledge of past performance.

2. God has begun a work IN you.

3. God is changing you. He is not changing your situation or your circumstances.

4. God never promises to change our situation or circumstances. He changes us so that no matter where we find ourselves, we are empowered to handle it.

5. The work God has begun in us is GOOD work. When His work doesn't feel good at the moment we must remember that He is not finished.

6. God always finishes what He starts.

7. Confidence about the future is developed through gratitude for the past.

8. Gratitude is our way of filling our minds with God's record of success.

9. If you are struggling to be grateful, think about the people who have blessed you, the provisions you have received, and the possessions with which you have been entrusted. The more you consider, the more you'll discover.

10. Every day, tell three people one reason why you are grateful.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

More Time Means More [fill in the blank]

I'm still dragging a bit this morning as I cajole my body to join me back in the Eastern time zone. Marianne and I had a great time visiting with Liam this past weekend in Washington.

A few days before our trip, we discovered we could change our flight and arrive in Seattle 12 hours earlier than our original flight. Excitedly, we began to make plans for our extra time in the Emerald City. More time meant more Seattle.
  • More Pike Place Market
  • More Coffee
  • More Smoked Salmon
  • More Views of the Puget Sound
  • More Street Walking and Looking for Cool Shops
  • More Time Together!
In Philippians 1:21, Paul says that more time on earth meant more Jesus. I've always considered this verse to be a comforting verse, reminding us that death is not the end and is not to be feared as it is the pathway we take into eternity. As I read the familiar words this morning, the first half of the verse grabbed me.

"For me to live is Christ."

More Jesus means more time together with Him. More Jesus means more time to walk like Him. More Jesus means more time to look like Him. More Jesus means more time to enjoy what He enjoys. More Jesus means more time to go where He would go. More Jesus means more time to treat others as He would. More time means more Jesus!

None of us know how much time we have, but all of us know that we have the time right in front of us. God has given you today. Will more time mean more Jesus or more of you?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

REFRESH: 10 Sermon Leftovers From John 4 (The Woman at the Well)

1. Jesus came to earth to refresh people.

2. Jesus refreshes people by providing relief.

3. Jesus refreshes people by providing a new life.

4. People who have been refreshed by Jesus, seek opportunities to refresh others.

5. Jesus' disciples were so focused on physical needs and desires, they couldn't understand Jesus' deeper spiritual teaching.

6. When a farmer plants a seed, the harvest must wait. When God plants a seed, the harvest is immediate.

7. Jesus commissioned His followers to do for people what He was already doing for people.

8. Jesus desires His followers to refresh people by providing relief.

9. Jesus desires His followers to refresh people by pointing them to new life.

10. Jesus desires His followers to refresh the people they know, the people who are like them, the people who are not like them, and everyone else in the world.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Relax. You're In God's Slow Cooker.

PHILIPPIANS 1:6 -- And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
I just dumped two pounds of meat and several other ingredients into a crockpot and set the timer for 9 hours. Once the meal is COMPLETED, we are going to enjoy a delicious dinner.
This afternoon, the house will fill with the smell of our impending feast, and we may be tempted to sample the food early. However, we'll remind ourselves that it might smell good now, but it isn't ready. Give it time, and it will be even better.
As I stirred all the contents in the crockpot this morning, I had no desire to eat any of the ingredients. On their own, before being cooked, they are not appetizing and they are not safe to eat. Time, heat, and pressure will form them into the perfect meal for tonight.
God does the exact same thing with us. He puts us in the crockpot (or pressure cooker sometimes), and uses time, heat, and pressure to COMPLETE His work in us. 
Philippians 1:6 reminds us of two powerful truths.
1) All of God's work in us is good.
2) All of God's work in us gets finished.
You may be tempted to quit or despair because life isn't what you think it should be or isn't moving at the pace you would choose. Remember... until the meal is finished, the food is neither appetizing nor safe. Give God time.
You may be tempted to try your own route because serving God isn't bringing the results you had hoped. Or perhaps it is bringing results you don' want. Perhaps these uninvited life circumstances are the time, heat, and pressure needed to conform you into the image of Christ. Give God time.
Slow-cooking always beats the microwave. In the kitchen, and in life. Give God time!

Monday, September 9, 2019

STAY CONNECTED TO JESUS: 10 Sermon Leftovers from John 15

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (JOHN 15:1-5)
  1. The thing (or person) to which you are most connected is the thing (or person) from which you draw your life.
  2. The source from which you draw your life will either nurture you or poison you.
  3. A good source provides healthy life. An evil source provides certain death.
  4. Possible sources of life: Friends, family members, significant other, teacher, social media, Netflix (and other streaming sources), music, employment, hobbies, etc…
  5. Only Jesus is the source of TRUE life.
  6. To experience true life, we must STAY CONNECTED to Jesus.
  7. To “stay” means to not wander, to not withdraw, and to not race around looking for fulfillment everywhere other than Jesus.
  8. The word “stay” indicates that you are already where you need to be. Jesus knows where you are and He has you in that specific place for a specific purpose.
  9. Wherever Jesus is asking you to stay… He is there with you.
  10. It is impossible to stay connected to Jesus if you are not connected to Jesus’ people.

Grateful People Have Selective Memories

PHILIPPIANS 1:3
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,

Paul's time in Philippi wasn't exactly a vacation at the beach or a walk in the park. You can read all the details in Acts 16, but among other things, he had to deal with a heckler, he and his friends got beaten up, and he was even thrown in jail.


Yet, in Philippians 1:3, Paul wrote that he was thankful every time he remembered the people who lived in Philippi. Was he thankful for all the bad times? (not that he shouldn't be as God helps us grown in difficult circumstances) Actually, verses 4-5 clue us in as to why he was grateful.

PHILIPPIANS 1:4-5
always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

Paul was grateful for the good times. He had warm memories of partnering with the Philippians to see the Gospel spread throughout their time. He was thankful for the support they had given as He proclaimed the truth.

GRATEFUL PEOPLE HAVE SELECTIVE MEMORIES.

You can choose which memories you dwell on. Only you can decide which story from the past you will play on repeat in your mind. If you choose to focus on the worst of times and the worst of people, you'll be depressed, bitter, and tough to live with.

If you choose to focus on the blessings and the blessed people, you'll be grateful, hopeful, and a joy to be around.

What will you put on your memory playlist today?